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Brazil orders two A330s for conversion into MRTT multi-role tankers

A330 MRTT in Brazilian Air Force service
Brazilian Air Force graphic of an MRTT refueling Gripen fighters that the service is receiving

The Brazilian Air Force has signed a contract with Azul SA for the delivery of two Airbus A330-200 airframes that will be converted to the multi role transport tanker (MRTT) configuration.

The contract has an estimated value of $80 million and was signed on April 18, following an international tender.

According to the air force, Azul offered the MSN 1492 (manufacturer’s serial number) aircraft, which it already operated, and the MSN 1508, which was acquired in the international market.

Azul is expected to deliver the two airframes within the next five months, while the Brazilian defense ministry expects to start negotiations with Airbus for the conversion of the commercial aircraft to MRTT platforms in the coming weeks.

The first MRTT is expected to start operations in 2024 with the 2º/2º Grupo de Transporte Esquadrão Corsário transport squadron out of the Galeão air base in Rio de Janeiro.

With the A330 purchase, the Brazilian Air Force will be filling a nine-year operational gap that was created with the retirement of the Boeing KC-137 in 2013.

The largest transport aircraft Brazil currently has in service is the KC-390 Millennium, which carries out missions of air transport of cargo and personnel, launching of paratroopers, and airborne assault, among others, in a tactical scenario.

The MRTTs will introduce the in-air refueling capability, carrying up to 111 tons of fuel and delivering it either via the ARBS refueling boom or under-wing pods for simultaneous hose and drogue refueling.

In the transport role, the aircraft have a maximum payload of up to 45 tons, and can fit 40 stretchers in the MedEvac cabin layout. They can also transport 27 LD3 containers or eight military pallets.

Once it receives the two aircraft, which are expected to receive the designation KC-330, Brazil will become the 13th MRTT operator, joining Australia, UK, Spain, Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and United Arab Emirates.

A total of nine of the over 60 aircraft ordered will be operated under NATO’s Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) program, which will allow Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway to operate the NATO–owned aircraft in a pooling arrangement.